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This especially satisfying one-pan dish is delicious served with soft polenta, mashed potatoes, or shell beans. Good choices for the green olives are unpitted Lucques or Picholines.
- 4 duck legs (drumsticks and thighs, attached)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed and coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 6 thyme sprigs, leaves only
- 6 parsley sprigs, leaves only
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup green olives
- ½ cup white wine
- 1½ cups chicken broth
- 1 strip of lemon zest
Trim the excess fat from the duck legs. Several hours ahead or the night before, season with salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 425° F. In an ovenproof skillet just large enough to hold the duck legs comfortably, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks and carrot, and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and olives. Cook for 3 more minutes. Place the duck legs in the skillet, skin side down. Add the white wine, chicken broth, and lemon zest to the skillet.
The liquid should be about 1 inch deep; add more liquid if needed. Raise the heat, bring to a simmer, and immediately put the skillet in the oven. After 30 minutes, take the pan from the oven and turn the legs skin side up. If necessary, pour off and reserve some of the liquid so that all the duck skin is exposed. Turn the oven down to 325° F and continue cooking for 1 to 1½ hours more. The duck is done when the skin is browned and the tip of a knife slips easily in and out of the meat.
Set the duck legs aside and pour the braising juices and vegetables into a small bowl. Allow the liquid to settle, then skim off and discard the fat. The duck legs will render a surprising amount of fat. Taste for salt and correct the seasoning if needed. If it’s too thin, reduce the braising liquid to concentrate it. Pour the liquid and vegetables back into the skillet with the duck legs on top. Just before serving, return to a simmer and reheat for a few minutes.
- Pitted olives can be substituted, but use fewer, about ½ cup, and don’t add them to the braise until the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- Substitute dry sherry for half the wine.
- Substitute dried fruit such as prunes or figs for the olives. Use red wine instead of white and add a piece of bacon or pancetta to the braise. Omit the lemon zest.
- Substitute chicken legs for the duck legs. Reduce the cooking time by 30 minutes.
Reprinted by permission of Alice Waters from The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution.
Alice Waters is a chef, author, and food activist, and founder of the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, CA. She is the author of numerous books, including We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto (2021). Learn more about her work and the Edible Schoolyard Project at edibleschoolyard.org.
Published in the Journal of Health and Healing™
Winter 2022 – 23 | Volume 46, Number 4
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